August 2010 Archives

Boston scooter accident kills emergency room physician

A local emergency room physician died Friday in a Boston scooter accident, prompting renewed debate over scooter safety in the city, the Boston Herald reported.

Scooters are too often bought or rented as a fun diversion. And they are frequently seen as harmless toys by riders and motorists alike. In fact, they are as dangerous as motorcycles. And statistics show that riders are 18 times more likely to be killed in a Massachusetts motorcycle accident than as a motorist in a passenger car.

"Motor scooters when ridden in the confines of the law are very safe, but people need to be aware of the conditions around them," John Paul, a manager of traffic safety for AAA, told the Herald. "People need to drive defensively - which is probably an understatement. You have to be as aware as possible. You have to be as aware as you can be of everything around you, just like you do in any vehicle."

On Friday, a 50-year-old Brigham and Women's Hospital emergency room doctor and father of three was struck and killed while riding a Zeco scooter on Beacon Street. The accident remains under investigation and no charges have been filed.

While the little bikes can be handy for zipping through traffic, they can also be deadly in the event of an accident. Still, their popularity has skyrocketed in recent years.

Scooter riders should ride defensively, watch for opening car doors, parked cars and driver's blind spots. Motorists should remain cautious around the scooters and treat them as you would a pedestrian because they are just as vulnerable.

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"Legitimate" hand-held radios still increase risk of MBTA bus and subway accidents in Boston

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority has resorted to using bright reflective logos on approve handsets to distinguish between employees using a radio for legitimate work purposes and those violating the T's ban on cell phone use by drivers, the Boston Herald reported.

Officials hope the move will further reduce the risk of a Boston subway accident or bus accident caused by a distracted driver. With or without the law, a mass transit driver's obligation is to the safety of passengers. When an accident is caused by speeding, distracted driving or other negligence, serious and fatal injuries frequently result. Such cases usually involve multiple accident victims and should always be handled by an experienced Massachusetts injury lawyer.
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Some confusion has reportedly arisen when riders spot bus drivers and subway operators using the black hand-held radios utilized by the transit system. By putting the bright stickers on the radios, they apparently hope to ease the minds of commuters.

The MBTA banned employees from carrying cell phones after a trolley accident in May 2009. The crash was blamed on an operator texting his girlfriend. Since enacting the rule, about a dozen employees have been fired and 10 others have been disciplined.

We question how using "approved" handsets can be safer. Certainly, employees will not be making personal calls on company time. But whether they are personal or business calls, the use of a hand-held device still constitutes a significant driver distraction. I guess accident victims can take heart in the fact that the next crash was caused by an operator using an approved radio as part of his job!

The stickers were put into use after nearly 150 commuter tips of operators violating the cell phone policy; officials contend most of those cases involved workers who were using "legitimate radios."

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New employees should understand their rights in the event of a Massachusetts work accident

Employers in Massachusetts added jobs in July for the sixth straight month, outpacing much of the rest of the country, the Boston Globe reported.

Our Massachusetts workers' compensation lawyers hope the economic recovery continues. Our concern through much of the downturn has been reductions in workforce that can include workplace safety personnel and a general reluctance on the part of employees to report work injuries in Massachusetts or to otherwise do anything that might jeopardize their employment. Laws are in place to protect workers against retaliation for reporting a work accident. Failure to report an accident can result in an inability to collect damages if your injury later becomes serious and involves lost work time or even a disability claim.

Speaking with an experienced work accident lawyer in Boston is always the best course of action to protect your rights and the financial well-being of you and your family.

As the economy recovers, it will be equally important that new workers receive the proper safety training and understand their rights to a safe workplace and to proper compensation in the event of a serious or fatal work accident. Like those clinging to jobs during the recession, new workers may be particularly reluctant to file a work accident claim when an injury arises in the course of their employment.

Again, properly documenting an injury is absolutely critical and laws are in place to prevent an employer from retaliating. Of course, those laws are often only enforceable when an employee asserts his or her rights by contacting an aggressive and experienced law firm.

Massachusetts added 13,000 jobs last month, following the 3,000 jobs the state added in June. The unemployment rate now stands at 9 percent. State employment has increased despite an overall loss in jobs in the nation as a whole during the last two months.

Nationally, jobless claims hit 500,000 last week for the first time since November, according to the U.S. Labor Department.

Massachusetts employment is rising at a rate of 4 percent so far this year, compared to 1 percent nationwide.

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Speeding blamed for fatal Massachusetts car accident in Agawam

At least four people were injured in an Agawam, Massachusetts car accident on Sunday -- authorities say speed was a factor in the crash, according to Massachusetts Live.
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Massachusetts State Police report that the two-car accident happened on Suffield Street shortly before 4 p.m. on Sunday.

An 86-year-old Agawam man was seriously injured and taken to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield. The 20-year-old driver of the second car and two passengers were also transported to the hospital with injuries.

The preliminary investigation shows the 20-year-old driver may have been speeding north on Suffield Street when he collided with the other vehicle, according to Agawan police.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that speeding is one of the leading causes of traffic accidents. Nationwide, about one-third of all traffic fatalities involve a speeding vehicle. In 2008, speed-related crashes claimed 11,674 lives.

The cost of speed-related crashes is astronomical. In 2000, the cost was estimated at more than $76,000 a day, or about $1,300 a second.

Like many poor driving habits, young drivers are especially susceptible. The government reports that more than one-third of male drivers ages 15 to 24 were speeding at the time of their involvement in a fatal accident.

In 2008, speed-related car accidents in Massachusetts were responsible for 97 of the state's 363 traffic fatalities.

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Massachusetts pedestrian accident involves police cruiser in Chelsea

A Massachusetts pedestrian accident has claimed the life of a 56-year-old man after he was struck and killed by a police cruiser in Chelsea, according to the Boston Globe.

The man was struck shortly after 11 p.m. by a police cruiser, which was a sports utility vehicle. The officer had been responding to a call to assist Everett police in a foot chase, according to the Suffolk District Attorney.
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The accident is under investigation by Massachusetts State Police and authorities have not said how fast the cruiser was going at the time of the crash.

A Boston injury lawyers or wrongful death attorney can assist a family in investigating the cause of such accidents. Frequently, an independent investigation is a good idea in crashes in which law enforcement personnel are charged with investigating whether a police officer was at-fault in a fatal accident.

The officer, who has not been identified, was treated at Massachusetts General Hospital and released. He has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, which is department policy.

The victim lived in a nearby apartment building. Neighbors say he lived alone and would often take bus rides around the city as a way of getting out of the house. They said he may have just gotten off a bus at the time of the accident.

Nationwide, 4,378 people were killed in pedestrian accidents and more than 69,000 were injured, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Pedestrian accidents in Massachusetts claimed 75 lives that year.

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Egg recall highlights dangers of food poisoning in Massachusetts; life-threatening illness possible for some patients

The size of the nation's massive egg recall has tripled to 380 million eggs as hundreds of victims have been sickened by salmonella, CNN reports.

Massachusetts food poisoning cases can be very serious, even life threatening. As our Boston injury lawyers have reported, an estimated 325,000 people are hospitalized each year for food poisoning and 5,000 die as a result.
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 76 million cases will be reported each year -- affecting 1 in every 4 consumers. When a company's negligence results in the serious injury or death of a consumer, a personal injury or wrongful death suit may result.

In the last three months, nearly 2,000 cases of Salmonella have been reported. The CDC reports that hundreds more have likely become ill from consuming tainted eggs. More cases are expected because the CDC does not yet have reports after July 17 because of the lag in data collection.

The Food and Drug Administration is calling it one of the largest egg recalls in history as Wright County Egg of Galt, Iowa has increased the size of the recall to 380 million eggs.

On July 9, the FDA announced new rules for large-scale egg producers, but by then the outbreak had already started. Like the deadly peanut butter recall several years ago, it is again apparent that the multi-billion dollar federal agencies charged with protecting consumers cannot always be relied upon to do so.

Meanwhile, safety advocates contend that salmonella outbreaks are on the rise across the country. Symptoms generally begin within 12 to 72 hours and include diarrhea, fever and abdominal pain. Vomiting, headache and muscle pain may also occur. Elderly patients, infants and those with compromised immune symptoms are at increased risk of medical complications, which can be life threatening.

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Massachusetts negligent security claim could result from bystander death in Boston pub

A 23-year-old bystander was reportedly killed in a Boston pub when a piece of bar glass pierced his jugular during a fight between two other patrons, the Boston Globe reported.

The victim was out with friends at the popular Lansdowne Pub near Fenway Park. Just after midnight, a patron allegedly threw a beer mug, which shattered and sent shards of glass flying. A piece of glass pierced the victim's jugular vein. Bleeding profusely, he was rushed to Brigham and Women's Hospital, where he died less than 30 minutes later.

Nothing will make things right for this young man and his family. But a Boston injury lawyer should be called to assist with thoroughly reviewing the circumstances of this case. Certainly the man who threw the glass should be held responsible. It's also possible that a negligent security claim could be filed against the bar.

A thorough investigation will help determine whether the at-fault patron in this case was excessively intoxicated; whether he had caused problems for other patrons previously; or whether the bar's owner or staff could have taken additional precautions. A negligent security claim permits a victim to collect damages from a business or property owner when an injury could have been prevented by reasonable precautions.

In this case, two of the victim's friends were also treated for cuts; one was hit in the head so hard he suffered a possible concussion and needed medical staples to close the wound.

The 25-year-old defendant was charged in Roxbury District Court with manslaughter and two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. He entered pleas of not guilty and was being held on $75,000 cash bail.

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Fatal Boston boating accident claims life of Weymouth man

Authorities on Sunday morning found the body of a man who was killed in a Massachusetts boating accident on Saturday night in Boston Harbor.

The Boston Globe reports that the 47-year-old Weymouth man tried to swim to Graves Light after a pleasure craft began taking on water at about 7 p.m. Rescuers picked up two other people from the boat.

The victim was found 3 miles east of the 21 foot boat, which was half submerged about 500 yards from Graves Light. He was taken to Station Point Allerton.

Massachusetts State Police are investigating the incident. The U.S. Coast Guard rescued two other boat passengers after receiving a distress call about 6:50 p.m. A cutter, a 25-foot-rescue boat and a helicopter participated in the search for the victim.

As we have reported on our Boston Personal Injury Attorney Blog, authorities are concerned about the high number of boating accidents occurring off the Massachusetts coast this summer.

Through July 4 weekend, 21 people had died in accidents off the coast this year, compared to 10 people during all of last year.

Authorities are urging boaters to wear life vests and practice other safe boating habits through the height of boating season and the upcoming Labor Day weekend.

A Guide to Massachusetts Boating Laws and Responsibilities is available here.

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Massachusetts nursing home neglect verdict comes despite arbitration agreement

A woman has been awarded $400,000 for the disfigurement and death of her stepfather in a nursing home, the Boston Globe reported.

The Massachusetts nursing home neglect and abuse claim stemmed from the 2005 death of a 93-year-old nursing home resident. The resident died a month and a half after suffering an eye injury at a Brockton nursing home owned by Kindred Healthcare.

The victim's eye was gouged by a metal hook as he was being mechanically lifted from his bed. Two people were supposed to operate the machine. The patient later died from sepsis, which is an infection-related complication.

A jury awarded the stepdaughter $400,000 plus interest for disfigurement and pain and suffering. However, they did not find Kindred responsible for the death. It was a victory even getting the case to trial -- last year, a judge invalidated an arbitration agreement the victim signed, which agreed not to sue if he was killed or injured at the nursing home.

Kindred owns more than 40 nursing homes in the state.

Hiring a Massachusetts nursing home neglect lawyer is critical to protecting the rights of nursing home patients against the large corporations that dominate the nursing home industry. The American Health Care Association reports that more than half of the nation's nursing homes are run by large chain corporations and two-thirds are operated as for-profit companies.

In an increasing number of cases, nursing homes are seeking to have residents or family members sign arbitration agreements or other releases as a condition of admission. Essentially, they are acknowledging that your loved one is at high risk of serious or fatal injury in their facility and are asking you to agree not to sue them in the event of gross negligence. We recommend that families refuse to sign such releases; consulting an attorney to discuss a nursing home's admissions procedures is also a good idea.

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Arlington bicycle accidents a concern as city leaders push forward with Massachusetts Avenue improvements

A retired school principal in Arlington has spent more than $40,000 of his own money trying to prevent road improvements aimed at improving cycling and pedestrian safety and reducing the risk of bicycle accidents in Boston and Cambridge.

The Boston Globe reports the opposition has come in the wake of a plan to improve a mile-long stretch of Massachusetts Avenue, by creating wider sidewalks and dedicated bicycle lanes. A 71-year-old retired high-school principal is among the foes of the plan and has so far hired a law firm, an engineer and two consultants in an effort to prevent city leaders from moving forward.
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So far, those efforts have been unsuccessful. As our Boston injury lawyers have reported, the area is beginning to be recognized nationwide for the improvements it has made the cycling infrastructure. But serious and fatal bicycle accidents continue to be a primary concern as hundreds of riders are seriously injured or killed each year in Massachusetts bicycle accidents.

In this case, opponents are arguing that Arlington has plenty of places for riders, including a nearby rail trail, and that alterations to Massachusetts Avenue would only encourage more cyclists to use the road and increase the difficulty of travel for motorists and emergency vehicles.

Arlington town officials first unveiled the $6 million plan several years ago. Leaders hope it will continue to encourage commuters to ride bikes or walk, rather than add their vehicle to the congested roads. Critics are particularly concerned about the close proximity to the popular Minuteman Bikeway, which is less than a block away. They are concerned improvements could act as an invitation for thousands of cyclists to begin using the roadway, which could actually increase the dangers.

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Behavior on and off the street can impact insurance premiums and risk of Massachusetts car accidents

The factors that could contribute to your being involved in a Boston car accident may also result in an increase in your insurance premiums, making safe driving habits a means of both improving safety and saving money.

And insurance companies are paying more and more attention, according to a report on Yahoo!

"If the driver does get into an accident as a result of his behavior, his next policy renewal would reflect it," said Robert U'Ren, VP of Quality Planning Corp, a company that assist auto insurers with validating and underwriting policies.

Behaviors likely to cause an injury accident and an increase in insurance premiums include:

Texting while Driving: As our Boston accident attorneys continue to report, a full-court, nationwide press is now aimed at stopping drivers from text messaging while behind the wheel. Thirty states have now outlawed the practice and even Oprah Winfrey has weighed in with the "No Phone Zone" challenge.

Those violating the law could receive a ticket, and their car insurance premiums could increase as a result.

Not wearing a seat belt: Nationwide initiatives aimed at seat belt enforcement continue to have an impact. An increasing number of states are switching from secondary to primary enforcement, allowing law enforcement to ticket violators even if they have not been stopped for some other moving violation.

Adding a teen driver: The mere presence of a teen driver on your policy will increase your rates substantially. Car accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers ages 15 to 20, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Several off-the-road behaviors can also frequently impact your insurance rates including:

Missing credit card payments:
While consumer advocates continue to argue against the policy, insurers continue to use the credit ratings of drivers in setting insurance rates. Companies claim those with poor credit or financial problems are a greater risk on the road and are more apt to engage in insurance fraud.

Paying insurance in installments: While motorists often saved a few bucks by paying all at once, rather than in monthly installments, that savings has gotten to be substantial. Frequently, a motorist can save several hundred dollars a year by paying in just one or two installments rather than paying by the month.

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Massachusetts ATV accidents, child injuries, targeted by new safety law

New rules aimed at preventing children from being injured in Massachusetts ATV accidents are drawing praise from parents and safety advocates, the Boston Globe reported.

As we reported in June on our Boston Personal Injury Attorney Blog, lawmakers passed the new rules 141-12. The governor is soon expected to sign it into law. Among other things, it will increase the minimum age for riding an ATV to 14, from 10. It is named for Sean Kearney, an 8-year-old Waltham boy who died after a 500 pound ATV flipped over and pinned him face down in the sand.

Katie Kearney said "this bill will be one of the toughest in the nation."

In 2004, and 2005, nearly 1,000 children were injured in Massachusetts ATV accidents. During the past 20 years, more than 2,500 children under the age of 16 have died in ATV accidents nationwide, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The new rules will also restrict the size of an ATV riders ages 14 to 16 are permitted to ride and will require riders in that age range to be supervised by someone over the age of 18. Riders under the age of 18 will also be required to take vehicle safety and responsibility courses before riding all recreational vehicles, including motorcycles, dirt bikes and snowmobiles.

Ken Anderson, president of the Massachusetts ATV Association, said the pending new law is unfair, considering "that the majority of injuries occurred in circumstances that were already in violation of existing statute, regulation, and common-sense best practices."

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Boston swimming pool accident claims life of twins -- for the second time in two weeks

A 4-year-old girl has died, less than 24-hours after her sister drown in the family's in-ground swimming pool in Brockton, the Boston Globe reported.

It is the second time in less than a month that twins have drown as the result of a Massachusetts swimming pool accident. We reported two weeks ago on our Boston Injury Attorney Blog that twin toddlers drown in a swimming pool accident.

Statistics show that 9 out of 10 child drownings occur while an adult is directly supervising a child. Authorities are encouraging parents to practice "touch supervision," in which small children are never more than an arm's length away. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that almost 50,000 people a year require emergency room treatment as the result of a swimming pool accident.

Each year, about 600 children die in swimming pool accidents, more than half of them are killed in swimming pools at home.

The CPSC offers swimming pool maintenance and safety tips.

In this case, the 4-year-old girl died shortly after midnight on Sunday. Her twin sister died Saturday afternoon.

Department of Children and Families reported receiving a tip about the twins and said it was also looking after the welfare of a 10-year-old child who was in a neighbor's care. It is unclear whether DCF had received a tip prior to the accident and failed to properly investigate, or whether the tip came in response to the drownings.

CNN reports the pool appeared to be unused and in disrepair. The parents work as a nurse and a medical assistant.

The two girls were not breathing when pulled from the family pool about 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, according to the Brockton rescue officials. The twin girls that died in last month's drowning accident were both 2-years-old.

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One killed, seven injured in Massachusetts work accident after condo explodes

A Boston work accident has claimed the life of a 48-year-old electrician, who died hours after being pulled from a Norfolk house explosion, the Boston Herald reported.

Seven other people were seriously injured in the incident, after the WInterberry Way condominium blew up. Fire investigators believe the cause of the explosion may have been a propane gas leak at the job site. Two co-workers, ages 43 and 17, remained hospitalized through the weekend.

A Boston wrongful death lawyer or Massachusetts workers' compensation attorney should always be consulted whenever an employee is seriously injured or killed in an accident while on the job.

Five other people, including two area firefighters, were treated and released at area hospitals. The victim was trapped in the basement for 90 minutes. The condo building is under construction at The Village at River's Edge, a development for people 55 and older.

The 1,000 gallon underground propane tank was installed and inspected on April 20.

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